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Background on the New York State Languages Other Than English (LOTE) Learning Standards and the Standards Revision Process

In 2017, New York State (NYS) began a process of review and revision of its current Languages Other Than English (LOTE) Standards adopted in 1986 and revised in 1996. The New York State Education Department is currently seeking feedback on the updated draft of the New York State Learning Standards for Languages Other Than English, which we are proposing to be renamed as World Languages.  The draft of these proposed World Languages Learning Standards were developed through numerous phases of virtual and face-to-face meetings with committees consisting of NYS World Languages educators, parents, students, building and district administrators, college professors and other stakeholders.  Revisions, additions, instructional alignment, and clarifications to the current standards reflect the collaborative efforts and expertise of all the above constituents. The proposed standards are the framework for the development of knowledge, skills, and social emotional learning that enables students to become globally competent, literate adults, who can communicate in a World Language.

The proposed New York State World Languages Standards are based on two sources:  Modern Languages for Communication and the World-Readiness Standards for Learning Languages.  The proposed draft of the New York State World Languages Learning Standards were envisioned for K-12 students to demonstrate what they know and are able to do in World Languages using current best practices and research to support local school district and community needs.  As a result, the proposed standards were crafted broadly to provide flexibility for both World Languages educators and K-12 students with multiple entry points.  At the same time, teaching K-12 World Languages in New York State may be unique for a variety of reasons.  For example, most schools in our state begin World Languages instruction in 7th or 8th grades, however, other schools offer Foreign Language in the Elementary School (FLES) programs starting as early as Kindergarten, and some schools even begin teaching World Languages during Pre-K.  In addition to traditional World Languages programs, there are also Bilingual Programs and Dual Immersion Programs that offer unique environments for students to learn other languages, while reinforcing their skills in English.  There are also significant differences among school districts, such as the available facilities, equipment, time allocation to the study of World Languages, and many more.  Therefore, it is important that the New York State World Languages Learning Standards are developmentally appropriate for all students, including students with disabilities and English Language Learners.  The concept of Culturally Responsive-Sustaining Education (CR-S) is embedded throughout the proposed NYS World Languages Standards.  These standards recognize multiple cultural views of teaching, learning and human development in which the expression of diverse perspectives are recognized and regarded as assets for teaching and learning.  Finally, the proposed NYS World Languages Standards were written with the goal that students would be able to earn the  New York State Seal of Biliteracy (NYSSB) by graduation.

The New York State Seal of Biliteracy is an award given by a school, school district or county office of education in recognition of students who have attained a high level of proficiency in two or more world languages by high school graduation, one of which must be English.  By offering the Seal, schools clearly state that mastery of two or more world languages is a critical skill for their graduates.  The purpose of the NYSSB is:

  • To encourage students to study languages;
  • To recognize the value of language diversity;
  • To provide employers with a method of identifying people with language and skills;
  • To provide universities with a method to recognize and give credit to applicants for attainment of high level skills in multiple languages;
  • To prepare students with 21st century skills; and
  • To honor the multiple cultures and languages in a community.

As of 2019, 36 states and the District of Columbia offered a State Seal of Biliteracy.  New York State was second only to California to adopt this program.  The New York State Seal of Biliteracy was passed by the Legislature and signed into law by Governor Andrew Cuomo on July 31, 2012 behind the sponsorship of Senator Robach and Assemblywoman Arroyo.   Since the inception of this program, over 7,700 students from more than 80 countries have earned the NYS Seal of Biliteracy in 47 world languages and English.  In the 2019-20 school year, 228 schools offered the NYSSB (a 98% increase from the prior year).  17% of all NYS public schools offer the NYSSB (approximately 1 in every 6 schools).  Last year, 4,031 students earned the NYSSB in 47 different languages.  This represents more students earning the NYSSB in 2018-19 than in all three prior years combined since the Seal was adopted.  Of those students, 23 earned the NYSSB in 2 world languages in addition to English and one student earned the NYSSB in 3 world languages.